The holidays are relaxing, busy, stressful, and enjoyable – all at the same time. With so much constantly going on with family, food, and gifts, one way I make the holidays a lot less stressful is keeping my finances in check. With a baby coming in just a few months, Marcus and I are paying attention now more than ever to what we spend and what buckets we divide everything into. Here are a few ways we are keeping the holidays more affordable – and still doing everything we want to do.
Pay Attention to Deals of the Day
Whether you like to shop on Amazon, Groupon, Living Social, Google offers, or any other deal sites, take a mental note of gifts or items you are looking for and get them when they come available. I have done this the past three years for our holiday cards, and have run away with steals each and every time. Of course, if you haven’t heard of the company before, do a quick search to check out reviews, just to make sure you are getting a quality product. I have had no issues so far, and have been really happy with how our cards have turned out. This year, I got the deal for InvitationBox.com and ended up paying $23 for 75 Christmas cards. When I checked out before I put in the voucher number, the total was over $125. That’s some pretty great savings!
Get Together in Groups
There are a lot of dinners with friends happening in the next couple of weeks, and while you don’t want to turn down an offer to catch up while grabbing a meal with friends, some times you just can’t do it all. Consider getting together with a group of friends, instead of each one individually. You can still catch up with everyone, but only have to pay the bill for one restaurant, instead of multiple.
Put a Budget in Place
If you haven’t already done this, its something you can actually start on next month for 2014. Determine who you bought gifts for this year, and tally up how much you spent on each gift. Get a total amount from all of the gifts, add a couple hundred dollars for unforeseen gifts you may purchase next holiday season, and then divide that total number by 11. Save that amount of money each month from January through November in a different bucket than your normal savings. Now, when December 1st rolls around, you will have plenty of money to use for gifts and you won’t even see your savings budge at all. Now, the key to this is staying on budget for each gift you buy next holiday season!
Opt for a Potluck
If you want to host a holiday party, take the main course and ask the other attendees to bring a side item or a dessert. It’s a great way to take the stresses away of planning a big meal for a lot people. It’s also a fantastic reason to try other people’s favorite family holiday recipes.
Consider doing a Secret Santa or White Elephant Gift Exchange
If you have a group of friends that all buy gifts for each other, ask to see if you can pick names and do a gift exchange. It becomes and reason to get together for a nice, festive get together, and is much easier on your bank account.
Cash in Credit Card Points
If you have a credit card that earns points, cash some in for gifts. You can earn travel vouchers, gift cards, and much more. Cash in your points for some Amazon gift cards, and then buy gifts you had already planned on – just this time, with the gift card your credit card points provided for you. The points can be as good as cash for you. Since you have already spent the money to earn them, why not actually get use out of your previous spending?